Tinsmithing is no trade for young women; Marie Kotlarczyk knows this well. She watches her brothers and her father ply their trade, heating and shaping and soldering the bright tin into different shapes and items for the greater good of their customers and community and feels drawn to the work, but she is meant to marry, to mother, and not to smith. That is, until the ravages of war and the need for money turn the tide.
Tinsmith, 1865, Sara Dahmen’s first book in the Flat’s Junction series, delivers Marie’s story with fire and precision. The world of the Dakota Territory is developed with clarity and attention, and the Polish families that inhabit it are colorful and sympathetic. When Marie’s family arrives under the direction of her father, Stanley, after the loss of her mother—the heart of the family—there is a fair amount of distress. How will the Kotlarczyks afford to set up their tinshop? To build a home? To live? The family friend that offered them land is in less than optimal financial straits himself, so the Kotlarczyks must seek loans that come with strings that affect Marie directly.
The railroad threatens to split the property, the war takes the lives of too many young men, and Marie’s father suffers too much to be of use to her. As the book progresses, we see Marie become more and more independent and more and more of a smith, thanks to instruction from her older brother, and less and less a candidate for marriage and motherhood.
Marie’s journey of self-discovery in a difficult time is engrossing and entertaining. Her feisty spirit and unwillingness to compromise what she loves and who she is drives Tinsmith, 1865 from the first page to the last.
This page was created by an City Book Review staff member.
|Page Count||400 pages|
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